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New York, Family-Style: 5 Fun Finds in New York for Kids (and Their Parents)

New York, NY We loved our visit to the The Skyscraper Museum in New York City. In fact we fell head over heels over the place!  Photo courtesy  of Julian Schnear.

New York, NY We loved our visit to the The Skyscraper Museum in New York City. In fact we fell head over heels over the place! Photo courtesy of Julian Schnear.

NEW YORK, NY — As the old saying goes, “New York is the city that never sleeps.” But watch out! When your kids find out about all of the exciting adventures and good times in store for them in the Big Apple, you’ll have a hard time convincing them to go to sleep too. In New York City, the fun factor is off-the-charts. Read on to see why:

1. The American Museum of National History’s “A Night at the Museum” Sleepovers  A visit to the Museum of National History in Manhattan is an absolute must — especially if you include a recent wrinkle for visitors, inspired by the film comedies of the same name: “A Night at the Museum” Sleepovers!

The sleepover experience in this renowned museum is becoming a summer ritual for families from all over the globe. On my family’s last sleepover visit here, the room was filled with folks from Japan, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom and, of course, from all over the U.S. — starting on East Coast and stretching all the way to the Pacific and America’s 50th state, Hawaii!

The event isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny because it’s not every day that one can sleep beneath a 94-foot-long blue whale and trek around one of the world’s most famous museum with flashlights in the middle of the night. The experience of entering the iconic Age of Dinosaurs exhibit, flashlight in hand, standing beneath a 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex and gazing up at the remains of this majestic creature is incomparable.

Note: New prices, effective July 1st, are $145 per person, although museum members pay $135 per person, and scout groups are charged $125 per person. Don’t forget that each visitor has to bring the following items with them to the sleepover: Sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight (ESSENTIAL!!!), and a toothbrush. See the museum’s website for more details.

2. A Helicopter Ride over New York City   There might be no more magical experience during a visit to New York than soaring over the city’s famous landmarks via helicopter. And there are regular tours available for anyone eager to see the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Chrysler, Woolworth and Met Life Buildings from a most unique vantage point: A totally awesome 15-minute helicopter ride. A pass over Central Park is included, and it’s a particularly lovely experience if you’re visiting in the autumn when the trees are ablaze with glorious fall colors.

3. Matilda: The Musical   This acclaimed theatrical presentation has been billed as the best-ever British musical in history — or at least since “Billy Elliot.” The show is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story about Matilda, a little schoolgirl with magical powers who simply will not allow her dysfunctional parents or bullying headmistress get her down. Our heroine’s story is enacted by a cast of skillfully singing and dancing up-and-comers with three incredibly talented young girls who alternate the starring role of Matilda. Any of them should steal your heart.  Be forewarned: Tickets are extremely hard to find.

4. The Skyscraper Museum   An unexpected treasure trove in the city, the Skyscraper Museum hosts a rotating repertoire of family programs on Saturday mornings, wherein children engage with a leading educator/expert to explore the worlds of urbanism, architecture, and engineering through hands-on activities. Surrounded by images, film, and models of past, present, and future skyscrapers in the gallery, children and their guardians can learn about the history and potential of these towering buildings. Just about everyone teaching classes for the children has a Masters’ degree (or is working on one) in the fields of architecture or art history.

After a Skyscraper Museum workshop, plan to hop on the free ferry service to Staten Island to top off your day.  Glide past the Statue of Liberty — this time on the water, not in a helicopter — for free, and then head back to your digs in town.

“Archikids” — the next Saturday family program offered by the Skyscraper Museum — starts on June 29, 2013, runs from 10:30-11:45 AM, and continues throughout the summer. Architect Yves Roger leads this hands-on workshop, where, inspired by the museum’s extensive skyscraper exhibits, kids (ages 9-13) can make their own soaring structures in scale-model form.

5. The Joffrey Ballet School’s Young Dancer Program   Not to be confused with the Joffrey Ballet’s Professional Program, this specific two-week course caters to young students (ages 10-15) with a minimum of one year of ballet experience. If they enjoy dancing and wish to immerse themselves in the discipline, they will benefit from the high level of instruction. With 25 students or less in each individual program, the attention and experience is matchless. Note: Each edition of the Young Dancer Program presents an in-house performance by the students at the end of the course.

The options in New York are seemingly endless. Simply walking the streets of this magnificent town is amazing, so go, get out and embrace what many acknowledge as the greatest city in the world!

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